It’s been a long time since I was a teenager. It’s not necessary to get into exactly how long it’s been, but let’s just say that all the clothes from that time period are back in style and now labeled “vintage.” That said, as a young adult author, I feel like I understand what teens are thinking and feeling, and a lot of what I’ve learned is from their books. (The rest of it I learned from Twitter.)
In Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, the main character is alone (physically and mentally) for looooong stretches of time. She craves connection but isn’t really sure how to get it. A lot of other YA novels deal with characters who feel lonely and isolated. When you're a mom, it’s hard to remember how lonely being a teenager can be, especially when you'd give any amount of money for five minutes alone in the bathroom.
Remember when you were 17 and your parents put you on a steamer ship headed towards the New World with five dollars in your pocket? No, because that kind of stuff only happened a hundred years ago. I have a hard time letting my 6-year-old go to a “drop off” play date by herself, let alone sending her off into the world as a teen (even with a cell phone with GPS tracking). In Caitlyn Duffy’s The Rock Star's Daughter, the main character Taylor is on the adventure of all adventures (touring with her, you guessed it, rock star dad) and even then she still feels confined and sneaks out, even in a situation where most people would want to sneak in. So basically, teens have an insatiable desire for danger, which is a main contributor to parental aging.
For me, one of the saddest moments in Divergent was when Tris didn’t really know her mother at all until she changed factions and left home. Upon stumbling into her mother during an uprising, she discovers that her mom is (spoiler) actually a bada**. Are you a bada**? (Be honest.) Your kid wants to know. Even if you’re not, they want to know the real you; your aspirations and disappointments only make you more interesting and relatable. (Idea: quickly become a bada** to impress them.)
So take a page (literally) from your daughter’s TBR list and get some insight into what she’s thinking and feeling. At a minimum, it might spark a great conversation about books and maybe even reveal something about the both of you.
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